£1/2m fishing investment to significantly boost efficiency

Keith Thompson, left, of Ulster Bank and Bill Coffey in Portavogie with The Opportune tied up behind them
Keith Thompson, left, of Ulster Bank and Bill Coffey in Portavogie with The Opportune tied up behind them

A half million pound investment by a Portavogie fisherman is set to see him boost business by 33 per cent and support the development of the industry in one of Northern Ireland’s key fishing ports.

William Coffey is purchasing a new 70ft vessel, with the support of Ulster Bank, to enable him to become more efficient and productive.

The Opportune is three times the size of his original family trawler Girl Eileen, which was also bought with Ulster Bank support in 1979. It will enable him and his crew to fish in deeper waters, remain at sea for longer, and endure more difficult sailing conditions.

“Northern Ireland has some 280 active fishing vessels, according to research by Seafish, which land around 58,000 tonnes of fish per annum.,” said Keith Thompson, Ulster Bank business manager.

“These vessels employ around 800 people and account for some £28m of Gross Value Added. And that doesn’t include the wider employment and economic impact through the entire fishing supply chain.”

Mr Coffey said: “I worked very closely with Keith and the team at Ulster Bank to plan and secure support for the investment. It is critical for the future success of my business; enabling it to be more competitive. We can now fish in waters and weather that we couldn’t previously, and we will be spending a lot less on fuel.”